Contributed by Vlad Shvets from Paperform.co
Are you overstaffed or understaffed?
Are you wondering how many employees you need?Ecommerce doesn’t only mean delivering a box of stuff from a supplier to the end client. It’s a service that ensures the visitor the comfort of being one click away from a wide range of quality products that he can easily buy at any time, in complete safety. It is especially important to consider staffing when moving a physical store to an online store.
For an entrepreneur, one of the critical factors of enhancing an e-commerce business is receiving feedback from clients, because it needs to adapt his products to the market’s requirements and his competitors, and also adjust his business from a technical point of view, as the software solution he uses is extremely important too. This could be a good start for a road full of success while building a reputation and keeping clients satisfied. Quite a combo, right?!
Developing an e-commerce business and launching an online store implies a lot of hard work and decision making, so if you plan on doing it, then you have to be well informed and have a few unknown facts as possible from the very beginning. The less surprised you will be, the better.
Considerations for How Many Employees Your Ecommerce Business Needs
#1: As Many As It Should
If I had to enumerate a minimum number of team members here, I would say:
- -a marketing representative that usually is the owner of the business;
- -two sales assistants. OK, let’s stop a bit here. Why two? You might ask. Simply because it’s a critical department and if one salesperson is absent the second one covers for him;
- -a researcher that can also work from home;
- -a person who enters the products on the website;
- -a programmer or developer, whether internal or external;
- -an errand, if you choose to make deliveries in your town.
On the whole, I would say a team of 2-3 people minimum as permanent employees and 2-3 external collaborators would do the work.
#2: Depending on the information flow,
… there are several positions to fill, like:
- -accounting, tax, finance;
- -the sales flow, to do business, so make money;
- -the marketing flow to be able to sell what is on your website;
- -adding content on the website, products (stocks and prices), and descriptive texts;
- -changing features on the website, adding new functions, new menus, changing layouts, etc;
What is the current flow of information in your business? How do you make sure that no information, related to business finances of customers, falls through the cracks? Draw a visual of you business structure, and be sure that every task is assigned to a person. In small businesses, employees have to wear more than one hat.
#3: Hire or outsource?
As a small business, it might be more cost-effective to outsource your services to a part-time free-lancer than hire someone full-time. When your sales volume is low, you can have a part-time sales person answering your calls and processing your orders, especially if your website and online forms are figured out and the information is at hand. If you also add billing and delivery options with only two clicks, then things will arise with great ease.
As for the content, you should have someone committed to it, either internal or external to your company, for product descriptions, characteristics, photos, reviews, and so on. For all that’s SEO and CPC, you can externalize for a start, the same for programming – one or two freelancers paid hourly will do the trick.
Another important aspect is keeping in mind that implementing a 24/7 chat requires more resources than the 8/24 model. You should also decide if your call center answers inbound calls or if your client is called in 24 hours after leaving a message.
Plan, plan, and plan some more
Ideally, creating a strategy that can cover everything about your e-commerce business for the next 3 to 5 years would bring you closer to success. This way, you can easily prioritize actions and, depending on your financial and human resources, you can keep an eye on the big picture too and move forward in several directions at the same time.
While tasks like accounting, product management, etc. are compulsory and must be constantly accomplished, you can juggle between other tasks to reduce the work volume and the number of employees. For instance, choose between in house marketing strategies versus externalization, decide upon the frequency of social media activities, the number of social media networks, off-site SEO, software that can be used to automate some processes, weekly newsletter, reports, and weekly or monthly result evaluations, etc.).
If you automate routine tasks like syncing payment information to your store, email marketing & advertising, you can get more tasks accomplished with fewer employees.
To Sum It All Up
Starting an e-commerce business is not an easy job, because if it were, wouldn’t we all have our own online store? Unfortunately, many e-commerce owners go into business without recognizing the fundamentals of running a successful business. Without proper planning, a decent investment, extensive knowledge, and respect for your clients, you will not be able to compete against other business owners in the marketplace.
Be realistic when it comes to deciding the number of employees that your e-commerce business needs. Do your planning first, map out your company, and then make sure to grow gradually without overlooking any aspect of what developing a business implies.
This post was written by Vlad Shvets from Paperform.